The North Texas Tollway Authority board has agreed to pay legal fees for board member David Denison, who is involved in an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Denison revealed a possible conflict after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported his involvement in the purchase of 625 acres along the planned Chisholm Trail Parkway.
Earlier this month, the NTTA broke ground on the 28-mile toll road that will run from downtown Fort Worth to the city’s southern suburb of Cleburne.
In the FBI investigation, whose parameters have not been disclosed, Denison has hired the law firm Meadows Collier Reed Cousins Crouch & Ungerman to represent him, according to a letter Denison sent to authority general counsel Thomas Bamonte.
“I believe with respect to performance of my duties as a director of NTTA that I have acted at all times in good faith, my conduct was not opposed to the best interests of NTTA, and I did not have reasonable cause to believe that my conduct was unlawful,” Denison wrote in the letter.
The FBI investigation of unspecified current and former members of the NTTA board was disclosed in a preliminary official statement for a bond offering.
Denison, a retired real estate investor, said he was an independent consultant and investor with one of the partners in the purchase of the land alongside the new toll road.
In a Feb. 11 memorandum to fellow board members and tollway staff, Denison said, “There is no scenario under which that acquisition can result in any economic benefit to me.”
NTTA board chairman Kenneth Barr of Fort Worth defended the decision to pay Denison’s legal fees as “appropriate,” and “consistent with its continued cooperation with the FBI in its investigation.”
The agreement requires Denison to repay the fees if it is later determined that he is not entitled to indemnification.